Friday, October 05, 2007

STORMWATCH WAS COOL

STORMWATCH was a comic produced under Jim Lee's WILDSTORM imprint at Image Comics during the mid-90s. The book was about the U.N. organization STORMWATCH that operated out of "SKYWATCH", an orbiting satellite station under the command of "THE WEATHERMAN", Henry Bendix. Basically it was [Marvel's] S.H.I.E.L.D. in space but with superheroes. The book introduced some really cool characters like BATTALION (the main Field Leader), WINTER, FAHRENHEIT, FUGI, HELLSTRIKE, BACKLASH and DIVA. While not the best book, those first dozen issues were still pretty cool and helped flesh out the Wildstorm Universe, which was pretty much depicted through Lee's WILDC.A.T.s book.
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After those first dozen issues or so, the book took a nose-dive in both story and art. I personally dropped it....until WARREN ELLIS came onboard as writer with Issue 37. Ellis took Stormwatch to new levels. While still keeping it within the world of costumed heroes, his stories amped it up with political commentaries, increase of horror & violence, and overall more mature themes. During this Ellis' run, he created new great characters like ROSE TATTOO, APOLLO, THE MIDNIGHTER, JACK HAWKSMOOR (who can communicate with Cities), SWIFT, THE DOCTOR and JENNY SPARKS. He also introcuded the concept of "THE BLEED", a space in between parallel universes that one is able to travel through... a concept later used in Ellis highly-enjoyable PLANETARY and later in DC Comics as well. This run of Ellis' Stormwatch is some of my favorite superhero comics to come out during the 1990s.
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Stormwatch #50 was the last issue of the first series, quickly being relaunched into another. This 2nd series was a bridge Ellis built where he transformed the Stormwatch of old into a "new" creation called "THE AUTHORITY". Stormwatch Vol 2 ended with #11 and the one-shot "Final Orbit" (with a great suprise crossover ending!), with THE AUTHORITY #1 launching soon after with soon-to-be-superstar-artist BRYAN HITCH on artchores.
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The Authority was cool too (for its time) and introduced the new era of "WIDESCREEN" storytelling in mainstream comic books. While very enjoyable, I found it a bit too cynical and drab for my tastes. Many of its stories revolved around pissing on characters very similar to Marvel and DC characters (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Avengers, etc). Still a great comic, but the fun "superHERO" aspect was gone; I tend to prefer to LIKE my heroes. The Authority (later picked up by writer MARK MILLAR) also inadvertantly changed the tone and feel of MARVEL COMICS in the Tweens-Present. Which makes sense since Mark Millar is now one of the main writers and guiders of Marvel (see his ULTIMATES for a good example).

Warren Ellis and Mark Millar's Stormwatch/Authority runs are collected into Trade Paperback collections. Recommended!

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LISA, Golden Apple Comics, or your local comic bookstore today!

2 comments:

tim said...

Crossovers have always been cliche and pretty lame, ie Superman vs Aliens, Batman vs Aliens, Batman vs Terminator vs Aliens. Nothing ever happened in those books.

But the Aliens/Stormwatch/WildCATS crossover was awesome and surprised everyone. I'm not giving anything away you can't gleam from the cover.
Good book.

Anonymous said...

I agreewith Jim, was a fan in the begininng. But then it started the image spiral of crapped out books.

I always thought of it as Image's version of Deep Space Nine.